Watch out South Florida! In case you haven't heard by now, the sky is falling and the reported impact site will be the Miami Dolphins facility in Davie. Word on the streets is that Jeff Ireland is the primary target and Stephen Ross is Plan B. Never mind that Ireland disappearing would completely wreck any immediate plans in Miami's future and that there is nobody available to adequately replace him. After all, nobody thinks Ireland's plan will work and everyone on this site is just as capable as running a franchise as he is.
Now what caused this recent outburst that will even lead to a protest at the Dolphin facility this afternoon? Well, you have Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn to thank for that. Why? Because it is what many people wanted. It's strange to think that a month ago many people didn't want Manning or Flynn. Manning was old and damaged goods. Flynn was a former 7th round pick with only two good games and was about to be another overpaid QB like Kevin Kolb of the Arizona Cardinals.
The fact that Manning chose not to meet with Miami official at their facility was damning evidence he didn't want to go to Miami. He went to Denver and it is Ireland's failure. Never mind that Manning has been to Miami's facility before, but not the facilities in Tennessee, Denver, or San Francisco. Never mind that if Manning was truly uninterested in Miami, he'd turn them down outright like he did for Seattle. After all, the Seahawks even flew to Denver to visit Manning while he was there and he still refused to meet them. Never mind that most believed if Manning avoided the Dolphins it was likely because of Ross' style of running the organization. Never mind that Manning even said he enjoyed talking to the Dolphins.
Flynn was then signed to the big contract, but it wasn't Miami that signed him. That put an immediate bullseye on Ireland because he failed to land Plan B, even though the thought of Flynn in Miami on a $8 million per year contract scared many fans. It isn't taken into consideration that Miami may not have thought highly enough of Flynn to offer that much money. The simple matter is Flynn isn't in Miami and it's Ireland's fault.
Let's take some other complaints commonly seen about Ireland.
Complaint: Jeff Ireland has failed in hiring coaches and coordinators! Fact: Ireland didn't hire Tony Sparano. That move was made solely by Bill Parcells less than two weeks after he hired Ireland. GMs often leave the assembling of the staff to their head coach as they need them to work closely together. Still, Parcells picked Paul Pasqualoni as Miami's defensive coordinator within two weeks of naming Sparano as Miami's head coach. He hand picked Dan Henning, his good friend, a few weeks later. The two eventually failed and were fired. The next two coordinators in which Ireland at least played a role in the hiring process turned out to work better than the previous two. Brian Daboll was heavily criticized upon being hired by Miami, but he eventually got the Dolphin offense into a groove in 2010 under Matt Moore. Mike Nolan quickly turned Miami's defense around.
Complaint: Nobody wants to play for Miami! Fact: The Dolphins do receive a lot of scrutiny. Some of it goes towards Ross and some to Ireland. Still, the Dolphins signed Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett in free agency. Miami never would've been able to trade for Reggie Bush if they weren't able to get him to negotiate a new contract. If Bush didn't want to be in Miami, he wouldn't be there. The Dolphins also convinced Cameron Wake to sign with them instead of going to other suitors like the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints, and the New York Giants. Never mind that the Saints and Giants were coming off recent Super Bowl victories. Never mind the Giants had consistently churned out great defensive pass rushers. Instead, Wake said he chose Miami because of the coaching staff and the organization. Yes, the Dolphins were spurned by players like Manning and Flynn. Again, Manning said he enjoyed the visit with Miami. We have heard consistent reports Flynn was interested in Miami, meaning it is unlikely Ireland himself changed his mind. Jeff Fisher did spurn the Dolphins, but he spurned Stephen Ross because he wanted more power. Any problems with him and Ireland was simply Ireland being in Miami and having the power Fisher wanted.
Complaint: He's not a good evaluator and can't assemble a team. Fact: Strange that people say this team is only a QB away from being a Super Bowl contender. It's not like Miami had an overly talented team in 2007 before Ireland. The players didn't magically appear despite Ireland's presence. Has he been perfect? Obviously not. Nobody ever hits on everyone. That includes Bill Belichick. The same that are ready to crucify Ireland for picks like Pat White in the second round, who was chosen by Parcells, point to Belichick's success with New England even though he's had plenty of second round busts like Darius Butler, Ron Brace, Terrence Wheatley, and Chad Jackson. Butler and Brace even came in the second round. But Ireland can't even get a decent role player in the third round? Patrick Turner is already out of Miami. That is true. New England's 2009 third round picks, Brandon Tate and Tyrone McKenzie, are already out of New England. While Ireland hasn't been perfect, you can't expect him to be. Still, Parcells was calling the shots until the summer of 2010. While Ireland was given more power during that spring, he gets blame for some moves that weren't his call. One positive thing to note about Miami's front office over the past few years is that while they haven't hit on every player they acquired, they have been quick to move on and haven't tried to make the move work. Many front office executives would try to convince themselves a big free agent like Ernest Wilford or Eric Green would work or would hole on to a second round pick like White to try and make them the player they envisioned he'd be.
Complaint: Ireland made a fool of himself by asking if Dez Bryant's mother a prostitute. Fact: It wasn't a smart move by Ireland. The question was a follow-up up by Ireland during a pre-draft interview when Bryant said his father was a pimp and his mother had worked for his father. Ireland foolishly tried to add two plus two and found that it equaled controversy. Bryant later came out and denied he said his father was a pimp, but said many of his pre-draft interviews with other teams also included another curious question. Other teams were asking if his mother was still using crack cocaine, a drug she had served prison time for dealing on the streets. That question wasn't as scandalous and was discovered after the media already blew Ireland's question out of the water. Was it stupid of Ireland? I think so. Was it overblown by the media? I think so.
Complaint: He embarrassed the team by going after Jim Harbaugh and he even failed at doing that. Fact: That was the decision of Ross, not Ireland. If Ross goes to Ireland and tells him to get on the plane because he wants Harbaugh, what would Ireland be expected to do? He can't force Ross to not hire Harbaugh. The fact that Ross' good friend and the man many believed would take Ireland's job, Carl Peterson, was boarding the plane was enough of a reason for Ireland to go as well. It'd be a terrible personal move to not board the plane with his boss and the individual who is lining up to take your job.
The bottom line with Ireland? There are players out there that don't like them. He does appear to rub people the wrong way with an arrogant attitude. Ireland also hasn't built a terrific team. Miami still hasn't found a franchise QB under Ireland's watch. All of that are valid reasons for concern. I don't expect people to read this and all of a sudden support Ireland. I would just like those that criticize Ireland and Miami's move, something I even do on occasions, to at least get their facts straight.